Following fads is not a strategy

I have no idea what “Adobe Marketing Cloud” is, but someone who works there clearly understands the problem of fad-driven marketing tactics.

The Internet is a fantastically powerful – and dangerous – tool for marketers.

It’s a little bit like a chainsaw.

If you know what you’re doing, you can accomplish amazing things with it. If not…all I can say is “ouch!”

It’s all blocking and tackling

If you’re a football fan, you know what I mean.

If not, here’s what it translates to: Every game, whether it’s football or selling things, has a handful of “must do” parts.

In football, it’s “blocking” for the offense, so quarterbacks can throw their passes in relative peace and running backs can get to the goal line and score.

For the defense, it’s “tackling” to stop the other side, (the quarterback, a running back, a receiver who’s caught a pass) from moving the ball forward and scoring.

Football, like any activity, has a lot of moving parts, but these two things are the KEYS. If you don’t do them, no matter how many other fancy tricks you know, you can’t possibly win.

The blocking and tackling of marketing

Marketing is putting the right offer in front of the right people at the right time.

Let’s break that down:

It starts with knowing who the “right people” are for your product or service.

The more specific you can be about this, the better.

Please don’t say “everybody” unless you’re Proctor & Gamble, have a few billion dollars in the bank and sell soap.

Even amazing tech success stories that sell to “everyone” like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple started with a very clear – and a very narrow – focus.

Don’t believe me?

Google started as a school project. Larry Page and Sergey Brin needed a focus for their graduate work and decided to play around with finding better search engine methods.

Their original “market” was their professors and their fellow students at Stanford.

They only went into business when no one else was interested enough in the technology they created to buy it from them.

Amazon, which sells everything under the sun, started selling one thing and one thing only – books – and they focused on it exclusively for the first several years of their existence.

Facebook’s founder had one focus which he even maintained the first year after he moved to Silicon Valley: He wanted to rule the online college facebook market.

Instead of having “world conquering” aspirations, he drilled down on that one single, well defined goal.

Apple, started out in the hobby market. Steve Wozniak calculated that there were about 50,000 ham radio operators in the US.

He reasoned that if there were that many people in the country who would “geek out” on radio, there would be a similar number of people who’d have the geek chops and the geek lust to want to and be able to make their own computer from a kit.

Apple’s first product was an “assemble your own computer” kit for geeks.

Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple all started with a laser beam focus because marketing is like war. Theory and strategy are interesting, but by themselves they mean nothing.

Here’s what does mean something:

Blocking and tackling Principle #1: You need a solid piece of dirt to stand on and hold to get started whether you are going to war or starting a business. Without that you’ve got exactly nothing.

So who are the “right people” for your product or service?

You want to develop supreme clarity about this.

When you know the answer to “the right people” – and you’ve done the arithmetic to show that there is a business serving them – 90% of your marketing problems are pre-solved.

“The right offer”

Knowing who your people are tells you want kinds of offers they are most likely to respond to.

An “offer” has two parts: what you offer and, as important, how you offer it.

Avid trout fishermen are going to respond to a promising new lure. Stock trading system buyers are going to respond to a new stock trading system that has impressive results. Barbie doll collectors are going to respond to the newest Barbie accessory.

Buyers are buyers.

Blocking and tackling Principle #2: Create a business that puts relevant offers in front of known buyers.

Please read the next sentence as many times as it takes until it become part of your DNA:

“To be successful in sales and marketing put relevant offers in front of the people who are known to buy the kind of thing you are selling.”

Exactly how to package and present your offer is not so simple, but even there if you know who your buyers are and are crystal clear about what kind of folks they are, the task of tailoring the right offer for them is much easier and much, much more likely to be successful.


Who your “right people” are also tells you what media to use to reach them.

“Woo-Woo,” the fictional new social media craze in the video, might be the perfect media – or it might not.

The punch line of the video is only “grandmas” use “Woo-Woo” so if you’re marketing to grandmas, it’d be a perfect marketing to media match.

The point is media selection comes after you’ve sorted out “the right offer to the right people” and this is the exact point where a lot of Internet marketers trip up.

They hear about something new and amazing like AdWords or Instagram or Facebook ads or Kickstarter or “Woo-Woo” and that becomes the beginning, middle and end of their marketing plan and they completely ignore the blocking and tackling.

Blocking and tackling Principle #3: Don’t be “that guy” who who wastes his time and money because he ignores blocking and tackling.

Be the guy or gal who knows precisely who you are selling to, what their buying motivations are, what kind of offers they are most likely to respond to, and where in the media universe they are most likely to “hang out” so you make intelligent, not faddish, media devisions.

Block, tackle – and score.

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business – and life – with my clients.

If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

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